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Bezos fund awards $7.5M to two Hawaiʻi nonprofits combating homelessness

Josh Green Ryan Catalani Rick Blangiardi.jpg
Casey Harlow / HPR
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Governor-elect Josh Green, Family Promise executive director Ryan Catalani, and Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi discuss homelessness initiatives during a Tuesday press conference.

Two local nonprofits are receiving a total of $7.5 million to address homelessness in the state.

The Bezos Day 1 Families Fund awarded $5M to Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Centers of Maui and $2.5M to Family Promise of Hawaiʻi.

Family Promise of Hawaiʻi and Governor-elect Josh Green held a press conference on Tuesday to announce the award. This is the largest contribution to Family Promise in its 16-year history.

38 other nonprofits across the U.S. were awarded grants from the Bezos foundation, which distributed $123.45 million this year.

Over the past five years, the Day 1 Families Fund has provided 170 grants totaling more than $520 million to organizations working to address homelessness and help families gain housing support and stability.

The grant will help Ka Hale A Ke Ola create temporary housing, purchase new furniture for its temporary shelter and provide trauma services for children and families. It will also go to help the organization's efforts to provide access to technology.

"Family homelessness is one of Hawaiʻi's most urgent challenges," said Ryan Catalani, executive director of Family Promise.

"According to the latest federal data, an estimated one in 30 young children in Hawaiʻi experienced homelessness every year."

The money will help Family Promise expand its emergency shelter program, provide additional rental assistance and wraparound services, and scale up its shelter diversion program — which helps families avoid entering the shelter system.

Catalani says the one-time grant will also help the organization create a new center.

"We've been raising money to acquire a property that we're calling ʻOhana Navigation Center, which is going to combine this case management, wraparound services and temporary shelter," Catalani said.

"Have kind of be an all-in-one place where families, who are going through housing instability and homelessness, can find the help that they need."

Casey Harlow is an HPR reporter and occasionally fills in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Contact him at charlow@hawaiipublicradio.org or on Twitter (@CaseyHarlow).
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